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6 Fictional Fighting Styles (and How to Fake Them)

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1. Fighting style: Venusian Aikido

Where it comes from: Doctor Who

What it is: The eleven Doctors on the long-running British serial, while being of exceedingly varied temperaments, have all shied away from violence whenever possible. However, from 1970-1974, the third doctor, played by Jon Pertwee, became a master of Venusian Aikido.

Real aikido stresses self-defense while protecting the attacker from serious injury; the BBC’s time-traveler was no different. After defeating three armed men in 1973’s “The Green Death” the Doctor shouts, “Venusian Aikido, gentlemen! I do hope I haven’t hurt you!” before shuffling off to continue his adventure. At various times, the Doctor uses pressure points, kicks, throws, and even joint locks. While he never really gives anyone more information on Venusian Aikido other than its name, it proved more than effective at helping him out of jams even if he was a couple centuries old—he did only look 55 anyway.

How to fake it: Technically, the art is designed for Venusians, so you’d need five arms and five legs to really throw down. But from the looks of it, the Doctor’s style mostly consists of yelling “Hi-ya!” and tossing out some classic ‘70s judo throws and karate chops.

2. Fighting style: Mok’bara

Where it comes from: the Klingons

What it is: It wasn’t until Star Trek: The Next Generation that Trekkies got to see how the Klingons train. To be honest, Klingon Mok’bara looks an awful lot like Tai Chi. Practitioners use very slow, controlled movements intended to unify the mind and body, or to quote the Klingon Lt. Worf, “the form clears the mind and centers the body.” While Mok’bara can use weapons like the bat’leth and b’k tagh, the majority is devoted to Tai Chi-esque movement.

In the episode “Birthright,” a mid-plié Worf tells some students that Mok’bara is “the basis for Klingon Combat” just before taking down an uppity young Klingon who sneaks up on him. In a different Mok’bara class, Worf blindfolds a student half his size, tells her to defend herself, and then repeatedly knocks her down—to teach her what unfair means.

How to fake it: Seriously, it looks just like Tai Chi. There are plenty of videos online of people doing “Mok’bara,” and it’s really just Tai Chi. If you want a head start, though, listen to Worf: “First, you must learn how to breathe. Stand tall, as tall as you can.” Then, you just find a Romulan to beat the snot out of.

3. Fighting style: Baritsu

Where it comes from: Sherlock Holmes stories

What it is: Sherlock Holmes died falling over the Reichenbach Falls at the end of “The Final Problem.” Eight years later, Holmes came back having cheated death with baritsu, "the Japanese system of wrestling.” Using baritsu, Holmes slipped out of Moriarty’s grasp and avoided the fall. Strangely, this is the only mention of baritsu in any of the Holmes stories, and Sherlockians think that it should have been bartitsu, a martial art invented by British japanophile and expert mustache-wearer Edward William Barton-Wright. Barton-Wright hybridized judo, boxing, and fencing into his own self-defense method (the “bart” in “bartitsu” is from his name) much of it using a fashionable cane. Barton-Wright ran a bartitsu school for years but also published articles with wonderfully polite titles like “How to Put a Troublesome Man Out of the Room,” which sounds like a Holmes story in itself.


How to fake it: Even though baritsu isn’t real, bartitsu is, so you don’t even have to fake it. People still teach bartitsu in some martial arts schools. If there’s not a school near you, last year Ivy Press published Barton-Wright’s techniques in hardcover: The Sherlock Holmes School of Self-Defence: The Manly Art of Bartitsu—as used against Professor Moriarty.

4. Fighting style: Klurkor

[Image source]

Where it comes from: DC Comics’ Superman

What it is: The Silver-Age DC Comics universe was chock-full of strange little plot devices that have been removed or changed since 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. In the pre-Crisis DCU, Superman comics often featured the miniaturized city of Kandor, the planet Krypton’s lost capital (because planets have capitals). Kandorians didn’t have Superman’s powers while in the city, so they developed a martial art called Klurkor.

Superman and his cousin Supergirl both learned Klurkor, but the style was most often used by super-girlfriend Lois Lane. Lois learned enough that in Lois Lane # 76, she calls herself “a master of Klurkor…a Kandorian improvement on karate” while beating the snot out of a thief.

How to fake it: Mostly, you’re going to use karate chops. But if you want to get serious, strap on some rollerskates and practice kicking people in the face. In Superman Family #198, Lois reminds herself and the reader about Klurkor just before skate-fighting some Metropolis Rockets roller-derby bruisers.

5. Fighting style: Omnite

Where it comes from: Logan’s Run

What it is: Omnite only appears in the original novel, not in the 1976 film. In the novel, all people have to be executed on their 21st birthdays. Those who run away (“runners,” get it?), are hunted by “sandmen” like Logan 3. Logan, like all sandmen, is trained in Omnite, a martial art built from many others: “From Japan: jujitsu. From China: kempo and karate. From France: savate. From Greece: boxing and wrestling. The finest points of each art were combined in Omnite.”

Let’s ignore the fact that both karate and kempo are Japanese and that French kickboxing is probably pretty ineffective.

Logan does manage to break out of an ice prison and escape a deadly robot with a Matrix-y Omnite technique where he imagines “there was no cell bar” before striking and shattering it.

How to fake it: Apart from wardrobe—foam-padded mittens, a short white skirt, and Michael York’s foppish haircut—the best way to fake it would be to learn a couple moves from several styles so well that you could effectively fight while on one knee, “the classic Omnite attack position.”

6. Fighting style: Weirding Way

Where it comes from: Frank Herbert’s Dune

What it is: Women join the Bene Gessarit, a politically powerful religious sisterhood of Reverend Mothers, by purposefully overdosing on melange (Dune’s magical drug-cum-oil-metaphor called “the spice”) and then mastering prana-bindu training, which kind of gives them superpowers. Prana-bindu creates mind-body unity that gives its users complete control over every muscle, so much so that they can contort in impossible ways or even bend just their little toes.


Instead of using this to start a circus, the Bene Gessarit created the Weirding Way. With the Weirding Way, a fighter can strike with superhuman force and speed. In Children of Dune, the Bene Gessarit woman Alia is capable of delivering “a toe-pointing kick which could disembowel a man.” On top of this, the Bene Gessarit have other powers that let them simply imagine themselves behind an opponent and move so quickly they appear to teleport.

How to fake it: Considering you probably shouldn’t try overdosing, this could be tricky. For the movie, David Lynch didn’t want to film “Kung-fu on sand dunes,” so he created “weirding modules” that turn voices into weapons. So, faking the Weirding Way could probably just be a microphone and some massive sub-woofers.

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Courtesy of Crumbs & Whiskers
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Animals
Inside Crumbs & Whiskers, the Bicoastal Cat Cafe That's Saving Kitties' Lives
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Courtesy of Crumbs & Whiskers

It took a backpacking trip to Thailand and a bit of serendipity for Kanchan Singh to realize her life goal of saving cats while serving lattes. “I met these two guys on the road [in 2014], and we became friends,” Singh tells Mental Floss about Crumbs & Whiskers, the bicoastal cat cafe she founded in Washington, D.C. in 2015 which, in addition to selling coffee and snacks, fosters adoptable felines from shelters. “They soon noticed that I was feeding every stray dog and cat in sight," and quickly picked up on the fact that their traveling companion was crazy about all things furry and fluffy.

On Singh’s final day in Thailand, which happened to be her birthday, her friends surprised her with a celebratory trip to a cat cafe in the city of Chiang Mai. “I remember walking in there being like, ‘This is the coolest, most amazing, weirdest thing I’ve ever done,'” Singh recalls. “I just connected with it so much on a spiritual level.”

Singh informed her friends that she planned to return to the U.S., quit her corporate consulting job, and open up her own cat cafe in the nation’s capital. They thought she was joking. But three years and two storefronts later, the joke is on everyone except for Singh—and the kitties she and her team have helped to rescue.

A customer pets cats while drinking coffee at the flagship Washington, D.C. location of cat cafe Crumbs & Whiskers.
A customer pets cats while drinking coffee at the flagship Washington, D.C. location of cat cafe Crumbs & Whiskers.
Courtesy of Crumbs & Whiskers

Washington, D.C. customers stroke a furry feline while enjoying coffee at cat cafe Crumbs & Whiskers.
Washington, D.C. customers stroke a furry feline while enjoying coffee at Crumbs & Whiskers.
Courtesy of Crumbs & Whiskers

Crumbs & Whiskers—which, in addition to its flagship D.C. location, also has a Los Angeles outpost—keeps a running count of the cats they've saved from risk of euthanasia and those who have been adopted. At press time, those numbers were 776 and 388, respectively, between the brand’s two locations.

Prices and services vary between establishments, but customers can typically expect to shell out anywhere from $6.50 to $35 to enjoy coffee time with cats (food and drinks are prepared off-site for health and safety reasons), activities like cat yoga sessions, or, in D.C., an entire day of coworking with—you guessed it—cats. Patrons can also participate in the occasional promotion or campaign, ranging from Black Friday fundraisers for shelter kitties to writing an ex-flame's name inside a litter box around Valentine's Day (where the cats will then do their business).

Cat cafes have existed in Asia for nearly 20 years, with the world’s first known one, Cat Flower Garden, opening in Taipei, Taiwan in 1998. The trend gained traction in Japan during the mid 2000s, and quickly spread across Asia. But when Singh visited Chiang Mai, the cat cafe craze—while alive and thriving in Thailand—had not yet hit the U.S. "Why does Thailand get this, but not the U.S.?" Singh remembers thinking.

Once she arrived back home in D.C., Singh set her sights on founding the nation’s first official cat cafe, launching a successful Kickstarter campaign that helped her secure a two-story space in the city’s Georgetown neighborhood. Ultimately, though, she was beat to the punch by the Cat Town Cafe in Oakland, California, which opened to the public in 2014, followed shortly after by establishments like New York City’s Meow Parlour.

LA customers at cat cafe Crumbs & Whiskers
LA customers at cat cafe Crumbs & Whiskers
Courtesy of Crumbs & Whiskers

Still, Crumbs & Whiskers—which officially launched in D.C. in the summer of 2015—was among the nation’s first wave of businesses (and the District's first) to offer customers the chance to enjoy feline companionship with a side of java, along with the opportunity to maybe even save a tiny life. Ultimately, the altruistic concept proved to be so successful that Singh, sensing a market for a similar storefront in Los Angeles, opened up a second location there in the fall of 2016. "I always felt like what L.A. is, culturally, just fits with the type of person that would go to a cat café," she says.

Someday, Singh hopes to bring Crumbs & Whiskers to Chicago and New York, and “for cat cafes as a concept, as an industry, to grow,” she says. “I think that it would be great for this to be the future of adoptions and animal rescues.” Until then, you can learn more about Crumbs & Whiskers (and the animals they rescue) by stopping by if you're in D.C. and LA, or by visiting their website.

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entertainment
15 Inconceivable Facts About The Princess Bride
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MGM

It's no wonder The Princess Bride is such a beloved film: It's action-packed but still lighthearted, sweet but not saccharine, silly but still smart—and, of course, endlessly quotable. Fortunately, in 2012, the movie's leading man Cary Elwes was inspired to write a behind-the-scenes book about the making of the movie in honor of its 25th anniversary, for which he interviewed nearly all of the key cast and crew (sadly, André the Giant, who played Fezzik, passed away in 1993).

Pulling from the impressively detailed text of As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride and various interviews Elwes and others have given over the years, we rounded up a series of fun facts and anecdotes sure to delight any fan of the film, which was released 30 years ago today.

1. IT WAS WRITTEN FOR THE AUTHOR'S DAUGHTERS.

William Goldman, who wrote the novel The Princess Bride in 1973 and penned the screenplay, told Entertainment Weekly that, "I had two little daughters, I think they were 7 and 4 at the time, and I said, 'I’ll write you a story. What do you want it to be about?' One of them said 'a princess' and the other one said 'a bride.' I said, 'That’ll be the title.'"

2. BOTH THE DIRECTOR AND THE LEADING MAN ALREADY KNEW AND LOVED THE STORY BEFORE FILMING EVEN BEGAN.

Cary Elwes' stepfather had given him Goldman's book in 1975, when the future actor was just 13 years old. Rob Reiner, who directed the movie, first read the book in his 20s when Goldman gave it to his father. It quickly became Reiner's favorite book of all time, and he had long wanted to turn it into a movie—but he had no idea that many before him had tried and failed.

3. FOR A LONG TIME, NO ONE WAS ABLE TO MAKE THE MOVIE.

At one point or another, Robert Redford, Norman Jewison, John Boorman, and François Truffaut all tried to get the book made into a movie, but due to a series of unrelated incidents—"green-lighters" getting fired, production houses closing—it languished for years. (In one of these proto-Princess Brides, a then-unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger was supposed to play Fezzik.) 

After several false starts, Goldman bought back the rights to the book. The movie only got made because Reiner had built up so much good will with movies like This is Spinal Tap and The Sure Thing that the studio, 20th Century Foxoffered to make any project of his choice.

4. MANDY PATINKIN FELT A PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE CHARACTER OF INIGO MONTOYA.

Andre the Giant, Mandy Patinkin and Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride (1987).
MGM

"The moment I read the script, I loved the part of Inigo Montoya," Patinkin told Entertainment Weekly. "That character just spoke to me profoundly. I had lost my own father—he died at 53 years old from pancreatic cancer in 1972. I didn’t think about it consciously, but I think that there was a part of me that thought, If I get that man in black, my father will come back. I talked to my dad all the time during filming, and it was very healing for me."

5. ANDRÉ THE GIANT COULD REALLY, REALLY DRINK.

Three bottles of cognac and 12 bottles of wine reportedly made him just a little tipsy. When the cast would go out for dinner, André—who, according to Robin Wright, ordered four appetizers and five entrees—would drink out of a 40-ounce beer pitcher filled with a mix of liquors, a concoction he called "The American."

6. ANDRÉ HAD AN UNCONVENTIONAL METHOD FOR LEARNING HIS LINES.

Reiner and Goldman met André, then a famous wrestler, at a bar in Paris. "I brought him up to the hotel room to audition him. He read this three-page scene, and I couldn’t understand one word he said," Reiner recalled. "I go, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do? He’s perfect physically for the part, but I can’t understand him!’ So I recorded his entire part on tape, exactly how I wanted him to do it, and he studied the tape. He got pretty good!"

7. WILLIAM GOLDMAN WAS INCREDIBLY NERVOUS ON THE SET.

Of all the projects he’d written and worked on—which included the Academy Award-winning Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—Goldman loved The Princess Bride best of all. This manifested itself as extreme nervousness about the project. Reiner invited Goldman to be on set for the duration of the filming—which Goldman did not want to do, saying, “I don’t like being on set. If you’re a screenwriter, it’s boring”—but on the first day, he proved to be a slight nuisance. The first couple takes were plagued by a barely-audible chanting, which turned out to be Goldman praying things would go well. And when Wright's character's dress caught on fire, he panicked, yelling, "Oh my god! Her dress is on fire!"—even though Goldman himself had written that into the script.

8. WALLACE SHAWN WAS BRILLIANT, BUT ALWAYS ON EDGE.

Wallace Shawn and Robin Wright in The Princess Bride (1987)
MGM

Shawn, who played Vizzini the Sicilian, really is, like his character, a man of "dizzying intellect." He has a history degree from Harvard and studied philosophy and economics at Oxford. In fact, on a day off from filming The Princess Bride, Shawn went to Oxford to give a guest lecture on British and American literature. But Shawn was inconsolably nervous for the entirety of filming.

After learning from his agent that Reiner had originally wanted Danny DeVito for the part, Shawn was wracked with insecurity, perpetually convinced that he was going to be fired after every bad take. "Danny is inimitable," Shawn said. "Each scene we did, I pictured how he would have done it and I knew I could never possibly have done it the way he could have done it," he said.

9. THE DUEL BETWEEN WESTLEY AND INIGO WAS EXCRUCIATINGLY RESEARCHED AND REHEARSED.

Goldman spent months researching 17th-century swordfighting manuals to craft Westley and Inigo's duel; all the references the characters make to specific moves and styles are completely accurate. Then Elwes and Patinkin, neither of whom had much (if any) fencing experience, spent more months training to perfect it—right- and left-handed.

"I knew that my job was to become the world’s greatest sword fighter," Patinkin recalled in Elwes's book. "I trained for about two months in New York and then we went to London and Cary and I trained every day that we weren’t shooting for four months. There were no stuntmen involved in any of the sword fights, except for one flip in the air.” Even after months of pre-shooting training, the fencing instructors came to set and, when there were a few free minutes, would pull Elwes and Patinkin aside to work on the choreography for the scene, which was intentionally one of the last to be shot.

10. IT WAS ELWES'S IDEA TO DIVE HEADFIRST INTO THE "QUICKSAND."

That particular Fire Swamp stunt was accomplished by having a trap door underneath a layer of sand, below which there was foam padding for the actors to fall onto. Originally, the direction called for Westley to jump in feet-first after Buttercup, but Elwes argued this wasn't particularly heroic. Switching up the direction was a risky move—if the trap door wasn't opened at exactly the right instant, Elwes risked banging his head—or even breaking his neck. After the stunt double successfully executed the dive, Elwes himself tried it, and nailed it perfectly on the first take.

11. MIRACLE MAX REALLY WAS THAT FUNNY—AND YOU'RE NOT EVEN SEEING HIS BEST STUFF.

Billy Crystal brought two photos for his makeup artist, Peter Montagna, to draw inspiration from when creating Miracle Max: Crystal’s grandmother and Casey Stengel. As for the acting, Elwes wrote in his book, "For three days straight and 10 hours a day, Billy improvised 13th-century period jokes, never saying the same thing or the same line twice." Unfortunately for viewers, many of the improvised jokes were not fit for a family-friendly film. Only the cast and crew knows how funny his more crude Miracle Max takes were, but judging from the fact that Patinkin bruised a rib trying to stifle his laughter, as he recounts in the book, they were probably pretty good.

12. BILLY CRYSTAL AND CAROL KANE, WHO PLAYED HIS WIFE, INVENTED AN ENTIRE BACKSTORY.

Carol Kane and Billy Crystal in The Princess Bride (1987)
MGM

"Billy came over to my apartment in Los Angeles and we took the book and underlined things and made up a little more backstory for ourselves," Kane said. "We added our own twists and turns and stuff that would amuse us, because there’s supposed to be a long history—who knows how many hundreds of years Max and Valerie have been together?" How has that pair not gotten a spin-off film yet? 

13. ELWES FILMED MANY OF HIS SCENES WITH A BROKEN TOE.

Six weeks into production, André convinced Elwes to go for a spin on the ATV that was used to transport the larger man to and from filming locations because he didn’t fit in the van. Almost immediately, the vehicle hit a rocky patch and Elwes got his foot stuck between two mechanisms in the vehicle, breaking his big toe. The young actor tried to hide the injury from his director, but, of course, Reiner quickly found out. He didn't find a new Westley, as Elwes feared he might, but they did have to work some movie magic to allow Elwes to limp around in many of the scenes undetected.

14. ONE PARTICULAR ON-SCREEN INJURY WASN'T FAKED.

As soon as Westley recognizes Count Rugen as the six-fingered man, the script calls for the Count to knock our hero unconscious with the butt of his sword. In filming, Christopher Guest, who played Rugen, was naturally reluctant to really hit Elwes for fear of hurting him. Unfortunately, this reticence was reading on screen and take after take failed to look convincing. Finally, Elwes suggested Guest just go for, at least tap him on the head to get the reaction timing right. The tap came a little too hard, however, and Elwes was knocked legitimately unconscious; he later awoke in the hospital emergency room. It's that take, with Elwes actually passing out, that appears in the film.

15. ONE OF THE FINAL SCENES NEVER MADE IT INTO THE FINAL FILM.

In an alternate ending that was eventually cut, Fred Savage—who plays the initially reluctant audience to Peter Falk's reading of The Princess Bride—goes to his window after his grandfather has left and sees Fezzik, Inigo, Westley, and Buttercup all on their white horses.

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